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Canadian Shield

The Canadian Shield is a large area of rocky lands across northern Canada not something to protect you from flying arrows or swords! The Canadian Shield makes up nearly half of Canada's total area and is composed of Precambrian rocks - ancient, rounded rocks that form the core of most of North America. In Canada, the Shield stretches from Labrador through to northern Quebec, Ontario, eastern and northern Manitoba, northern Saskatchewan and the very northeast corner of Alberta. However, the Canadian Shield in Alberta is not wholly restricted to a small northeastern corner of the province but actually plunges under the plains and mountains, forming the foundation under the rest of the province - over 6,000 metres or 6 kilometres below the surface. This foundation indicates that Alberta has existed as rocky terrain for at least two billion years - the span of Alberta's geological history.

Jackpine forests cover isolated spots of the area. Vast sand dune landscapes gradually change into pine forest and provide habitat for plant species found nowhere else in the province. The region is not well suited for agriculture because much of the land is steeply sloping and inadequately drained. There is little vegetation and what is there, is growing in the rocks. The landscape has yet to be touched by industrial activity and therefore the region remains one of Alberta's best-kept secrets, unknown to many Albertans themselves as the majority of the population resides in the lower one third of the province.

Click here to learn about other natural regions in Alberta.

Canadian Shield

Canadian Shield

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Pelican Canadian Shield